March , 2009

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Draft Tribune: Your Draft Authority

Seven-time Pro Bowler Torry Holt, a mainstay of the Rams' Greatest Show on Turf teams, ...
Mike Mayock still vividly remembers his first impression of Josh Freeman, who at the time ...
Each and every year, the NFL Combine has an uncanny ability to produce freakish athletes ...
Former Pitt tailback and Bishop McDevitt product LeSean McCoy insists he has no regrets about ...
The 2009 NFL Scouting Combine has officially begun but the information you need is still ...
Browns coach Eric Mangini doesn't say much, so when he does say something definitive, it ...

Archive for March, 2009

Canes’ Shields moving to CB

Posted by Administrator On March - 5 - 2009 ADD COMMENTS

Receiver Sam Shields, who has had an up and down career on the offensive side of the ball for three seasons, will be moving to defense when spring practice begins later this month.

CaneSport has confirmed that Shields will be moving to cornerback at the start of spring practice, a spot where the Hurricanes need depth and help. The hope is that Shields can develop rapidly at that position during spring practice and, with a full off-season of work, can be a big factor in the secondary when the season begins in August. If he is not ready, Shields has never been redshirted and would be a candidate to redshirt if Miami finds that it is solid enough on special teams to live without him this season. But that will be a late August decision.

Shields has a chance to develop into a good corner because he has shown great aggressiveness and tackling skills on special teams.

Miami has an obvious numbers situation at receiver and the move gives Shield a chance to develop at a position where he might have a better shot of playing in the NFL.

Shields finished last season with only 11 catches for 124 yards, making his biggest impact on special teams as the team’s best flier. He had a couple of major mental gaffes, including a 15-yard penalty for coming too close to a punt returner and another penalty for running onto the field when his personnel group had not been called that was a critical moment in the loss to Florida State.

Shields had 27 catches for 346 yards as a sophomore, a season that included a suspension. As a freshman he had 37 receptions for 501 yards and four touchdowns.

He has started 12 games in his career at wide receiver.

Shields was one of the nation’s top receiver recruits coming out of Sarasota Booker High School. His senior year there he had 67 receptions for 1,201 yards and 22 touchdons.

With sub-4.3 second speed, he has thus far not lived up to his potential at Miami. But with his natural athletic ability and Miami’s needs at cornerback, Shields’ fortunes could turn around quickly on defense.


Torry Holt wants out

Posted by Administrator On March - 5 - 2009 ADD COMMENTS

Seven-time Pro Bowler Torry Holt, a mainstay of the Rams’ Greatest Show on Turf teams, has asked for his release, league sources told the Post-Dispatch on Wednesday. But the Rams still have 12 days to grant his wish.

Holt, 32, is due a roster bonus of $1.25 million March 17, so it’s highly unlikely he will be a Ram beyond then. But the Rams could still try to trade him until then, meaning any potential trade partner wouldn’t have to compete for his services, as would be the case if he were released.

Today marks only the seventh day of the free agency period. But more than 100 players already have either signed with new teams or re-signed with their old squad. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been committed in new contracts.

Realizing he no longer fits in the team’s plans, Holt is seeking closure on his time in St. Louis, as well as an opportunity to find a job ASAP.

Many of the top available receivers in free agency have gotten new contracts. Laveranues Coles (Cincinnati), T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Seattle), Nate Washington (Tennessee), Brandon Jones (San Francisco), Bryant Johnson (Detroit) and Jabar Gaffney (Denver) have signed with new teams.

Michael Clayton (Tampa Bay) and Devery Henderson (New Orleans) have re-signed with their old squads. Antonio Bryant was given the franchise tag by Tampa Bay.

As of Wednesday evening, there were some older receivers still on the market, however, including Marvin Harrison, 36, Joey Galloway, 37, Bobby Engram, 36, Amani Toomer, 34, and Ike Hilliard, 32. In addition, the New York Giants may eventually dump Plaxico Burress at some point because of his off-field problems.

Holt, the No. 6 overall draft pick by the Rams in 1999, has caught more passes (817) for more yards (11,872) than any receiver in the NFL this decade. Over his entire 10-year career, his average of 80.1 yards a game is the highest for any receiver in league history. Overall, Holt is 11th in career receptions (869) and 14th in career receiving yards (12,660).

At the start of the 2008 season, Holt said he wanted to make his 10th NFL campaign special — both from a team standpoint and an individual standpoint. At the start of training camp at Concordia University Wisconsin, he indicated that winning was more important than money or individual achievements at this stage of his career.

But 2008 turned out to be disastrous on several fronts. Coach Scott Linehan was fired four games into the year, and the team finished with a 2-14 record, struggling mightily on both sides of the ball.

Holt’s production plummeted. He finished with 64 catches for 796 yards and three touchdowns. The TD total was a career low. His totals for receptions and reception yards were the lowest since his rookie season. And his string of eight-straight 1,000-yard seasons was snapped.

Near the end of the 2008 season, Holt issued a blunt “no comment” when asked if he wanted to return to the Rams in 2009. He has one year left on his contract and currently counts $10.2 million against the Rams’ salary cap. Trading or releasing him would save the team $8 million this season, which comes in the form of a $6.65 million base salary, a $100,000 offseason workout bonus and the $1.25 million roster bonus.

League sources indicated over the weekend that the Rams were trying to trade both Holt and another Rams seven-time Pro Bowler, left tackle Orlando Pace. But so far there appear to be no suitors for either player.

Holt could not be reached to comment Wednesday.

Rams general manager Billy Devaney, when reached Wednesday night, said, “Our only comment is no comment.”


T.O. had to go

Posted by Administrator On March - 5 - 2009 ADD COMMENTS

The Cowboys now belong to Tony Romo.

Jerry Jones made that clear Thursday, when he fired Terrell Owens.

That’s right, the universal scapegoat has been removed from the Cowboys’ roster.

It had to be done.

There was absolutely no way Jerry could have returned this team intact after its woeful December and embarrassing finish in Philadelphia and expect a different result.

Jerry may be a lot of things, but he’s no fool.

He needed to make a dramatic change to this organization.

Jerry wasn’t going to fire Wade Phillips. And Jason Garrett wasn’t going to get another job. And Jerry wasn’t going to sign Ray Lewis. So, Jerry absolutely, positively had to let T.O. go. You know it pained Jerry to do so because he always feels like he can save a lost player.

But it wouldn’t work with T.O.

Owens’ personality is too powerful. Nobody in the locker room has the professional success or the intestinal fortitude to insist that T.O. sit down and shut up.

He had to go.

But all of the excuses go with him.

T.O. can’t be blamed for any more of Romo’s problems. If the offense doesn’t work this season, it won’t be because Garrett felt compelled to force the ball to T.O.

If Roy Williams, who caught 19 passes and scored one touchdown in 10 games with Dallas, doesn’t play like a Pro Bowl receiver, it won’t be because T.O.’s presence cost him chances.

It’s time for every player who blamed T.O. for the problems on this team to put up or shut up.

T.O. was flawed. Who could possibly dispute that? He whined way too much.

At 35, he’s a declining player whose ego will never ever allow him to admit it. He is a locker-room cancer.

We know that. He can’t help himself.

But he played hard on Sundays, and he produced. In three seasons with Dallas, he caught 235 passes for 3,587 yards and scored 38 touchdowns.

Few have done it better for the Cowboys.

But he was a non-factor much of last year. He had one tremendous game – a 213-yard performance against San Francisco – and not much else.

Eight times, he failed to have more than 40 yards receiving. He went 10 games at the start of the season without a 100-yard game.

Give Jerry credit for recognizing he had to make this move.

He spent a king’s ransom, including a first-round pick in April’s draft, on Williams before signing him to a five-year $45 million deal. Jerry knew Williams’ talent couldn’t, or wouldn’t, be maximized as long as T.O. was on the roster.

So did everyone else.

That’s why Jerry has been bombarded with questions about T.O.’s future since the season ended. Drew Rosenhaus, T.O.’s agent, scoffed at the thought of the star receiver being released.

Who knew he was so out of touch?

Jerry even had the nerve to become indignant when questioned recently about the topic.

Perhaps, it’s because he felt so conflicted.

After all, Jerry signed T.O. to a three-year, $27 million extension last season that included a $12 million signing bonus.

Every miserable season needs a scapegoat.

Firing assistant coaches Bruce Read and Brian Stewart and releasing Adam Jones was nearly dramatic enough. Getting rid of T.O. does the trick.

Now, the pressure is on everyone else to perform, starting with Romo.


Rutgers dismisses WR

Posted by Administrator On March - 5 - 2009 ADD COMMENTS

Rutgers dismissed junior receiver Dennis Campbell from its football program for a violation of team policy.

Coach Greg Schiano did not say how Campbell violated team policy in a release Tuesday evening.

Campbell played in 35 games and caught 25 passes for 307 yards and one touchdown, including 13 catches for 183 yards and a TD last season.

His dismissal comes at a bad time for the Scarlet Knights.

Kenny Britt opted to enter the NFL draft after catching 87 passes for 1,371 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Tiquan Underwood also won’t be around next season after making 40 catches for 494 yards and five touchdowns in his senior season.

Tim Brown will have the most experience among the returning receivers. He had 27 receptions for 565 yards and six TDs last season.


NFL Calendar

Posted by Administrator On March - 4 - 2009 ADD COMMENTS

March 22-25—Annual owners meeting, Dana Point, Calif.

April 17—Signing period ends for restricted free agents.

April 24—Deadline for old club to exercise right of first refusal to restricted free agents.

April 25-26—NFL draft, New York.

May 18-20—Spring meeting, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

June 1—Deadline for old clubs to send tender to unsigned unrestricted free agents to receive exclusive negotiating rights for rest of season if player is not signed by another club by July 22. Deadline for old clubs to send tender to unsigned restricted free agents or to extend qualifying offer to retain exclusive negotiating rights.

June 15—Deadline for old clubs to withdraw original qualifying offer to unsigned restricted free agents and still retain exclusive negotiating rights by substituting tender of 110 percent of previous years salary.

July 22—— Signing period ends at 4 p.m. EDT for unrestricted free agents who received June 1 tender.

Aug. 9—Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, Canton, Ohio.

Aug. 13-17—First preseason weekend.

Sept. 1—Roster cutdown to maximum of 75 players.

Sept. 5—Roster cutdown to maximum of 53 players.

Sept. 10—Season opener.

Lions, Raiders mourn

Posted by Administrator On March - 4 - 2009 ADD COMMENTS

The search for former Detroit Lions player Corey Smith and two of his fishing buddies ended at sundown Tuesday after three days of scouring the Gulf of Mexico.

Rescuers and family members had held out hope that Monday’s discovery of fellow boater Nick Schuyler — he was clinging to the capsized fishing boat 35 miles off the coast of Clearwater, Fla. — could lead them to Smith, fellow NFL player Marquis Cooper and former University of South Florida football player Will Bleakley.

But by Tuesday evening, more than 80 hours after the 21-foot Everglades boat set out into what were then relatively calm waters, the Coast Guard decided nothing more could be done.

“We’re extremely confident that if there are any survivors on the surface of the water that we would have found them,” said Coast Guard Capt. Timothy Close, who added that searchers scoured the equivalent of 24,000 square miles over the past three days.

Even if the men are found, Coast Guard officials privately told family members that the risk of hypothermia was high in mid-60-degree water.

“I think they did everything that they could,” said Robert Bleakley, the father of Will Bleakley. “I think they were not to be found.”

More details of Saturday’s events emerged Tuesday.

Scott Miller, a friend of Schuyler and Bleakley, gave this account of what a groggy Schuyler told him from a Tampa hospital:

The men initially hung together after the boat capsized, trying to come up with a plan. It was Bleakley who swam underneath the boat to retrieve three life jackets, along with a cushion. Bleakley used the cushion and the other men wore the life jackets.

On the first night, a chopper shone a light right above them and later on, as they continued to drift, Schuyler could even see lights from the shore.

But the waves were powerful, and after Cooper and Smith got separated from the boat, Schuyler and Bleakley tried to hang on.

The St. Petersburg Times reported Schuyler told investigators one of the NFL players gave up hope, took off his life jacket and let himself be swept away two to four hours after entering the water, according to family members of two of the missing men.

A few hours later, the second NFL player did the same. Schuyler and Bleakley remained clinging to the boat.

Then, Monday morning, Bleakley decided to take off his life jacket and swim to a light he saw in the distance, hoping to get help.

Ray Sanchez, Cooper’s cousin, said the Coast Guard told him the same story, but questioned the authenticity.

“We’re not 100% sure where his head was at,” Sanchez said. “He’d been through a lot.”

Searchers came across a cooler and a life jacket 16 miles southeast of the boat, but saw no other signs of the men.

Lions running back Kevin Smith, a Florida native, said he has also been out that far to fish and doesn’t want to think about what the experience was like for Smith, 29, Cooper, 26, and Bleakley, 25.

“That’s a tough way to go,” he said.

Rod Marinelli, who coached Corey Smith for three seasons with the Lions, released a statement through his new team, the Chicago Bears: “Corey Smith is a very special guy to me. He is a cornerstone of what this league is about: toughness, effort and team. … My thoughts and prayers have been with all three missing men and their families.”

The Lions also released a statement Tuesday: “Today’s news is a sobering reminder about how truly precious and fragile life can be. We will continue to pray for a miracle, though we fully understand and respect the decision of the Coast Guard.”

Lions defensive end Dewayne White said he hopes someone else will find them.

“I’m going to hold onto that. You never know, they might be washed up on the beach,” he said. “I prayed for him when I first got up this morning, and I’m going to keep praying for him.”

Smith was used to making the kind of impression Marinelli described. His coaches saw that attitude all the way back in high school.

Kevin Adams, athletic director at John Marshall High in Richmond, Va., was Smith’s linebackers coach his sophomore and junior years and head coach for Smith’s senior year in 1996.

“Corey was a good kid — just a great kid, worked hard,” Adams said. “Everybody loves Corey, which is one of the reasons I followed him, watched him play when he was at N.C. State. Yeah, he’s kind of a quiet guy — a gentle giant, but a great sense of humor.”

Adams said that Smith was a C-plus student and had to bring up his grades when he was recruited by colleges. He remembers Smith working with a tutor to get his test scores up.

“He worked hard for that,” Adams said. “He saw the dream.”

Smith took that ethic to North Carolina State University, where he played defensive end. He was a leader, said David Horning, the school’s senior associate athletic director.

“He showed that through his play on the field and was a very appreciative young man,” he said. “You just remember those kids.”

“This is so sad,” Lions defensive end Cliff Avril said. He didn’t know Cooper “like I did Corey, but it’s just like he’s one of our own. The NFL is a brotherhood. We all stand together.”

Detroit Free Press

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